I stepped out of my house and yawned, stretching slightly. I smiled to myself at the sounds of city life around me. Standing still for a moment, I bathed in what some would call obnoxious noise from millions of people living in one area; cars honking, children laughing, people walking, cats yowling, radios playing, dogs barking, all of it was music to my ears. I looked up at the cloudy sky swirling ominously and grinned. “I have a good feeling about today, should I get hot chocolate later?”
I walked down the driveway of my family's home, whistling to myself. Abruptly, I had to dodge to the side as the sprinkler system for my neighbor's lawn activated, catching me in the leg before I could escape. I cursed under my breath and looked at their house with a strained expression. From their professional looking lawn, the modern design of the building, and to the visible security system, it was clear the family had a lot of money. I clicked my tongue, thinking about the coworker who lives there. That guy really has it all. Ever since they renovated that house and moved in, my own perfectly normal one has been looking shabbier and shabbier.
I turned away from the irritating sight, walking down the sidewalk towards my workplace. My stomach twinged from a certain lack of food, and I was fully prepared to ignore it but the local 11-7 caught my eye. Pausing, I stared while biting the inside of my cheek. Finally I gave in to my hunger and approached the brightly lit building and pulled open one side of the double doors. I stared at the interior of the room, then decided to head towards the convenience store shelves where they displayed the extensive varieties of ramen. It took me less than a minute to choose sesame ramen, turning towards the refrigerated section to pair the cup noodles with a boiled egg. Heading over to the front of the store, I smiled at the cashier and quietly made my purchase. After that I went to the hot-water dispenser to fill my ramen cup with water. Once I finished preparing my meal I carefully picked it and went to sit at one of the empty tables by the window. While I waited for the ramen to cook I fidgeted with my phone, checking some of my games and starting my dailies. Noticing my meal was finished, I opened the package for the boiled egg and pushed it into the paper bowl and stirred the noodles, digging in. I watched some students from different highschools walking to school and some people just strolling in the street. When I was done eating my breakfast, I went to throw the empty cup of ramen in the trash can.
I exited the store with new energy, continuing on my way to work. ‘God, please let things go easy on me today, I would really like to go home without stiff shoulders for once.’ I prayed.
"Oi, Mr. Baek-Yang, wait up!" A voice called from behind that belonged to someone I really didn't want ruining my nearly perfect morning. My face scrunched involuntarily at the thought of this person. A habit I couldn't seem to break no matter how many times I've tried. Plastering on a strained, happy expression, I finally turned around. My rich neighbor, Han Min-Jun, was jogging up to me with a cheerful grin that made it seem like he was glowing. With dazzling red eyes that sparkled when they caught the early morning sunlight and ash brown hair drew attention wherever he went. Han Min-Jun brushed his fringe out of his eyes, and I wanted to curse because the movement looked like something out of a shampoo commercial. I didn’t understand why this top-class human had attached himself to me over the last few weeks, becoming overly friendly.
"Hello Mr. Han Min-Jun." I greeted him politely, my lips twitching and my fake smile wavering slightly. ‘Just go away already, oh my God.’
"Good morning, Mr. Baek-Yang!” He said with far too much enthusiasm that it grated on my nerves. “Since our destination is the same, should we go together?" His eyes fixed on me and the grin on his infuriatingly handsome face wasn’t fading one bit.
‘Something about his face really ticks me off.’ I sighed inwardly to calm myself down. Looking at that face, I couldn't even bring myself to outright reject him. "Fine. Whatever." I grumbled, trying to keep my face from falling entirely in the process. At that moment, I knew too well, God had chosen to ignore my earnest prayers.
While we were walking together in uncomfortable silence, I tried to pretend that I was looking around at every building that we passed by. ‘Why would I try talking to this guy when I didn’t want to come with him in the first place’.
"Hmm, Mr. Baek-Yang, should we buy something to drink, like coffee? It's quite early to go to the company just yet."
"I don’t like coffee, Mr. Han Min-Jun." I replied stiffly. ‘How about asking me what I like before inviting me?’
"Eh? Really? But it’s so good first thing in the morning!" Han Min-Jun stared at me with wide eyes.
‘You don’t need any more energy…’ I felt my annoyance growing, "Well, maybe, I'm not like you, Mr. Han Min-Jun." I bit the inside of my cheek then continued. "It’s bitter.” I cringed slightly, ‘Why would I want something bitter first thing in the morning? Or ever for that matter?’
"Oh, uh, instead of coffee, what do you like to drink then?" He asked with a small awkward chuckle but a warm expression on his face.
‘Oh, he finally asked.’ I glanced at him before answering, choosing my words carefully. "It depends on the day, but in weather like this, hot chocolate." I said quietly, ‘He better not call me childish, or I’ll kick him.’
He hummed, "Oh why hot chocolate though? You can have coffee even if the weather is not good.”
“...I like sweet stuff.”
Han Min-Jun blinked a few times, then smiled. “Sweets are very good on rainy days, especially warm ones.”
"Mhmhm." I nodded, ‘Finally, something we can agree on.’
"So, instead of us both getting a coffee, would you join me at a café where we can get hot chocolate for you and coffee for me?" He asked with a soft expression.
"...I guess." I sighed, surrendering. ‘This guy is just going to keep asking me until I agree anyway…’
"Great! It's decided then! Do you have a favorite café, Mr. Baek-Yang?" He asked.
"Anywhere is fine really. Every café is all the same to me. I buy my hot chocolate anywhere where it's most convenient at the time." I replied, trying not to say the 'I don't care' on the tip of my tongue.
"Okay, can we go to my favorite café for coffee? I think they also sell hot chocolate there.” Mr. Han Min-Jun chattered on, “You don’t mind following me there, right? It’s really close by, I promise…”
‘Why is he asking so many questions? We are already walking together anyway, so why is he asking me if it’s okay?’ I felt my earlier energy rapidly draining from my body as Han Min-Jun kept talking. "I'm fine with that."
"Okay, good!" It looked almost like he was a puppy given a treat with the way he practically bounced around with joy at my answer.
And so we kept walking in less heavy silence, since the prospect of sugar made me more willing to put up with Mr. Han Min-Jun's company. I observed that the road we were taking was familiar with me. As we kept our stroll I saw the front store of the Leal Café, ‘Damn, that's why I recognized this street. I’m surprised, this is also my most favourite one of all the other nearby coffee shops I’ve ever visited. I didn’t know that this guy also frequented Leal Café to buy his own coffee.’
"Here we are, should we get in?" Han Min-Jun asked.
As I looked inside the café, I noticed that it was full of customers and I scrunched my nose up in displeasure. ‘Ugh.’ I already felt claustrophobic and we hadn’t even stepped inside yet.
"I better wait for you outside Mr. Han Min-Jun." I muttered.
He blinked then tilted his head like a dog. "Why?" He asked.
"It's too crowded inside." I commented. ‘Hopefully he understands…’
"Okay." He nodded. "Just wait here for a moment then, I'll be back soon."
‘Thank goodness he got the hint for once.’ Right before he managed to disappear inside, I grabbed his arm. ”Wait, I need to give you money for my order." I was fishing for my wallet from my bag but he placed his hand on mine to stop me.
"No no, it's my treat, okay?" He smiled at me again.
‘Don’t his facial muscles ever get tired?’ I stared at him, baffled. "But— I don't want to be indebted—" I tried to reject, only for him to cut me off again.
"Nope! No buts, okay? Just wait here." He patted my back, escaping the hold I had on his arm and headed inside the café, leaving me outside alone.
While I was waiting outside the store, I observed that other people left and got inside the Leal Café. There are also some people who look at where I stood when they pass by in front of me. As I looked inside the Leal café, I saw Han Min-Jun talking to some girls as he lined up at the cashier. Wow this jerk is flirting so early in the morning.
‘This guy… Giving me no choice but to let him pay for both of our hot beverages. The jerk really just took advantage of me hating crowded places, to get me into debt. Wow. Smart Bastard.’ I clicked my tongue and scowled slightly, watching him weave though the groups of people to find the line.
A short while later, Han Min-Jun emerged from the café with our drinks in takeaway cups. He looked at me brightly like he wanted to get praised for a task well done, and handed me my order of hot chocolate.
“Thanks.“ I said, taking a sip of the drink. It was hot but not scalding.
“You're welcome.” Han Min-Jun looked content, then brought the coffee to his lips. “Oh before I forget, here, I also bought you some cookies to go with your drink. You can eat it when you take your break later. I guarantee the taste, so I'm sure you'll like them.” He took out the bag of cookies he bought while we both started to walk.
‘I guess he realized I have a sweet tooth. Should I accept the cookies or not? I really didn’t want to owe him any more than the price of my hot chocolate, but Leal Café has the most delicious cookies… Just this once wouldn’t hurt, right?’ I held back a sigh as we began moving towards our shared workplace once again. “Thank you.. I guess I will treat you to something later as a thank you for today.”
“..Really? You’ll treat me?” He asked, pausing from drinking his coffee.
“Of course. I don’t like being indebted.” I replied as I took another sip of my hot chocolate again.
“That’s a promise right? No take backs!” He beamed at me, his red eyes practically sparkling.
“Yeah yeah, whatever.” I said dismissively as I looked up at the sky, where the clouds had been gathering for a while now.
“Okay then, I can’t wait.” Han Min-Jun had the widest grin I’d ever seen on his face.
We finished our drinks while we continued walking towards the company together.
‘God, my day can’t get any more troublesome than it is already… right?’